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April 9, 2012 5:54 AM   Subscribe

Google Maps vs OpenStreetMap vs others: the article and the tool (via)
posted by DU (63 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm kind of shocked in the difference between Bing and Google's aerial maps. Bing gets in closer and the picture is much clearer. (I tested this on my hometown which is not up to date like major cities).
posted by NoMich at 6:07 AM on April 9, 2012


I was kind of shocked by the better quality of the aerial between Bing and Google at first too. But looking closer, I think all the "quality" I'm seeing is actually just higher contrast. Plus it looks like Bing took the picture later in spring so the grass looks nicer.

As for the maps themselves: I've always been partial to the OSM ones because I know someone, usually local, actually drove/walked/biked there and documented the fact that the road exists or doesn't. But I never use OSM because it doesn't do route planning. In fact, the UI of the whole site escapes me. I always feel like I'm trying to do something weird and craaaaaazy by trying to navigate using their map.
posted by DU at 6:23 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


maybe it's just because i'm used to it, but of these google maps seems the hands down-winner for me in terms of clarity and "glanceability". the colour schemes accurately and quickly identify roads, unlike bing which seems to have major roads to thinly drawn in to really notice, at least in my city. openstreetmap looks jumbled in comparison, and the less said about apple's iphoto map the better -- if they're going to replace google maps on my iphone, they to do some serious usability studies.
posted by modernnomad at 6:23 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


(too thinly drawn / need to do) etc. ugh.
posted by modernnomad at 6:24 AM on April 9, 2012


Wow, OSM's New York City map is a fucking mess. There's four or five different colors and so much irrelevant data.
posted by griphus at 6:35 AM on April 9, 2012


Forgot the link.
posted by griphus at 6:36 AM on April 9, 2012


I don't fully understand the connection, but Mapquest and OSM have a partnership - Mapquest obviously do route planning.

Ever seen Google started charging for heavy users of their map service, it's been exciting to see more and more people adopting OSM. Foursquare wrote about the changeover on their blog recently.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:38 AM on April 9, 2012


Yeah, Open Street Map is great as a source of map data, but less great as an actual map. That's okay, though - people are doing wonderful things with the data (previously).
posted by echo target at 6:41 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if OSM will ever overtake Google Maps for the end user. Maps is by far the most-used app on my phone, and the first thing I think about when considering a new OS or going back to a dumbphone.
posted by Vhanudux at 6:42 AM on April 9, 2012


a womble is an active kind of sloth: "Foursquare wrote about the changeover on their blog recently."

Some MeFites worked on that...hopefully they'll pop in here to talk about it...
posted by schmod at 6:44 AM on April 9, 2012


Having different degrees of coverage is understandable and unavoidable. What seems crazy to me is how one map or the other (I use MapQuest and Google Map) can have such widely different routes or even starting/ending points.
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:44 AM on April 9, 2012


For this discussion it's helpful to separate OpenStreetMap the data project from any specific map rendering of that data. Griphus' New York link is just one style. Mapquest is OSM data too, and their render of that location is very different. Stamen's three maps recently discussed here are OSM data, too; here's a watercolor. Cloudmade lets you make your own versions.

The Guardian article is about the OSM data. They've turned a corner a year or two ago where they have enough data in enough places to be a real map for real uses. I think it's great there are so many different renders, too. I'm particularly impressed with the mobile offline map viewer MapsWithMe; you download the OSM data once to your phone, then can see maps with no data connection or charges.

Apple recently shipped OpenStreetMap maps in iPhoto for iOS. I'm hoping Apple redoes the maps app for the iPhone, it hasn't gotten any development in years. The Android Google Maps app is way more capable by comparison.

BTW, the Guardian article mentions mapping areas during disasters, relief workers, etc. There's a bit of controversy about that. Google's been encouraging people to use their map making tool which is very capable, but then they keep the resulting data for themselves and their proprietary map. Many other people would prefer OpenStreetMap were used so the crowdsourced map remains free.
posted by Nelson at 6:48 AM on April 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Something about the color scheme in Bing maps and the way it labels neighborhoods in my town that I've never heard of with big letters reminds me way too much of this map of New Crobuzon.
posted by cirrostratus at 6:51 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


maybe it's just because i'm used to it, but of these google maps seems the hands down-winner for me in terms of clarity and "glanceability".

Google looks awesome because they've put a lot of work into the google maps user experience. Here's an article by two Google UX designers on the design and evolution of Google Maps.
posted by zamboni at 6:52 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


OSM probably is the best source of raw data, even if the default view of it is hideous. It's got tiny details that Google doesn't notice, like the unsurfaced walking trails through the park behind my house. They're barely more than worn in desire paths but OSM has got em. And as a long time Google Maps loyalist it pains me to say this, but MapQuest's interpretation of the OSM data actually looks pretty good.
posted by cirrostratus at 7:03 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


"And as a long time Google Maps loyalist it pains me to say this, but MapQuest's interpretation of the OSM data actually looks pretty good."

Yeah - no kidding. I had forgotten they were still around.

I still have some loyalty for Bing Maps. For a long time, they were my only source for transit data in DC. They're still Bing, though. Plenty good, but not Google good.
posted by Vhanudux at 7:10 AM on April 9, 2012


I still have some loyalty for Bing Maps. For a long time, they were my only source for transit data in DC. They're still Bing, though. Plenty good, but not Google good.

Googlemaps is the best.

True that. Double true.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you like privacy, this is great. Remember the first GPS things? They were disconnected from the internet: All the map data was stored locally, and they just listened to signals from GPS satellites.

Now, though everything uses phone based systems that download data from internet as you drive.

There's a privacy problem: That means you're location needs to be uploaded all the time to the servers, which they can then do whatever they want too with (right now they use it for figuring out traffic conditions)

The other problem, though, is just practical. Cellphone networks just aren't all that reliable. Why on earth should you need a phone signal to be able to use your phones mapping system? It's completely ridiculous.

Obviously one issue is size. the OSM data right now is a 20GB download. That's a lot larger then my phone's internal storage, but flash prices keep dropping. A 32Gb microSDHC card is just $36 on newegg. You could put all the OSM data on it wth 12GB for music and movies.

In a couple years, hopefully, it won't even be an issue.

Yeah, Open Street Map is great as a source of map data, but less great as an actual map.

What's the difference?
posted by delmoi at 7:22 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nelson: “Apple recently shipped OpenStreetMap maps in iPhoto for iOS.”

That article makes it sound a lot nicer than it is. A more correct way to say it would be to say "Apple blatantly stole OSM data and shipped it without warning or attribution as their own." The article says OSM is "working with Apple to remedy" this situation. That's a euphemism for "we sent Apple a nasty letter, and we really hope they respond and do the right thing by fixing the attribution."

A bit more info here. Also, here is OSM's softshoe response, where they say they "look forward to working with Apple" to fix it. I haven't heard anything about Apple contacting them, though, so who knows.

Basically, this whole situation was several different shades of not-cool.
posted by koeselitz at 7:24 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whoa, I haven't tried MapQuest in like 10 years and it is awesome.
posted by DU at 7:28 AM on April 9, 2012


delmoi: That means you're location needs to be uploaded all the time to the servers, which they can then do whatever they want too with (right now they use it for figuring out traffic conditions)

Do you have a source for this? I wasn't aware that location with, e.g., the Maps app on iOS involved anything more than requesting the map tiles near your location, then overlaying the GPS "dot" locally. While you could figure out a user's location approximately based on the map tiles they're requesting, that's very different from "upload all users' exact coordinates and use it however we want".
posted by aaronbeekay at 7:29 AM on April 9, 2012


As an Austrian pedestrian, cyclist and transit user, Google and Bing Maps are simply useless to me, though I suppose their route planning capabilities could be worth it for people who drive. The visual presentation of the commercial providers is arguably prettier, but that doesn’t help me in the least if they don’t even have the most basic infrastructure. Just look at the surroundings of my hometown’s main railway station, for instance. Google and Bing apparently don’t know about the shopping mall (“EKZ Sillpark”) and the tram lines, let alone the paths in the city’s biggest park. OpenStreetMap tells me exactly which of those streets I am allowed to bike on. It also includes an extra bridge which is used a lot, and lots of minor waypoints of diverse usefulness (mailboxes, recycling bins and public toilets are certainly more important than every single tree along the riverfront). Try panning around and comparing to Bing, too; the crowdsourced data wins everywhere.

As usual, the corporations appear to focus on the US market, motorists and/or bigger cities. For people like me, OSM is a godsend.
posted by wachhundfisch at 7:32 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wasn't aware that location with, e.g., the Maps app on iOS involved anything more than requesting the map tiles near your location, then overlaying the GPS "dot" locally.

I don't know how the iPhone does it, but I had an app on my Nokia n810 that handled regular maps as you describe. However, the processor wasn't fast enough (or something) to handle routing. So you had to update your current location to a server run by Some Guy and it would figure out the route and send it back to you.
posted by DU at 7:33 AM on April 9, 2012


s/update/upload/
posted by DU at 7:33 AM on April 9, 2012


aaronbeekay: “Do you have a source for this? I wasn't aware that location with, e.g., the Maps app on iOS involved anything more than requesting the map tiles near your location, then overlaying the GPS ‘dot’ locally. While you could figure out a user's location approximately based on the map tiles they're requesting, that's very different from ‘upload all users' exact coordinates and use it however we want’.”

iOS mapping actually doesn't generally use traditional satellite GPS, since that would be a bit slower and take longer to make accurate. What Apple has done is collect a huge amount of data about the locations of wireless networks from users; they use this data to put the dot on the map where you are. So delmoi is right; every time your dot is placed on the map, Apple is collecting that data, although they've made promises about privacy and how that data will be used. Source: "Apple explains that the iPhone 3G and all later models also use 'wi-fi hotspots and cellular towers to get the most accurate location fast' when GPS is not the most convenient method of location detection."
posted by koeselitz at 7:40 AM on April 9, 2012


Interestingly, the person who set up OSM is Steve Coast and he now works at Microsoft. Microsoft are now also supporting the project too. It's been a while since I did any aerial tracing, but OSM also had a partnership with Yahoo aerial imagery where derivative work (tracings) could be uploaded into the OSM database.

I admire that OSM also are keeping their Apple discussion private - it seems like a better way of resolving the problem and perhaps bringing Apple on board as a partner.

I think the competitive forces at play here are really beneficial for the end-user as costs shrink and technology improves democratizing the information. Which I see as a good thing for society as people can do wonderful things with the data. And it keeps getting easier and easier to use!
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 7:42 AM on April 9, 2012


OSM has some problems with city-name display decisions, I think.

Unless more people are looking for Camden or West Chester than Philadelphia or Elizabeth and Smithtown than New York?
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 7:53 AM on April 9, 2012


As an Austrian pedestrian, cyclist and transit user, Google and Bing Maps are simply useless to me, though I suppose their route planning capabilities could be worth it for people who drive.

I think OSM is particularly good in Austria and Germany. Almost to a fault, since it seems like on the university campuses, people end up labeling everything that can be labeled, even past the point of making any sense. Trails through the woods? Sure!
posted by smackfu at 7:58 AM on April 9, 2012


I had never seen OSM before. I clicked on the "where am I" link from my non-GPS PC. It told me that I was at a particular address over 500 miles away and three states away.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:58 AM on April 9, 2012


Ha, funny how people have come to expect websites to be magic.
posted by smackfu at 8:00 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


It got within 500 miles with no reliable information on where you are. That's pretty good.
posted by DU at 8:06 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


While house-hunting, I found the isometric "Bird's eye" view used by Bing to be one of the best ways to view a neighborhood or house from above. The satellite view that Bing uses is pretty crummy compared to Google's, though. It's very odd that they don't include the isometric view in the comparison, since I thought it was much better than anything else for that specific purpose, save for Streetview, of course.
posted by mysterpigg at 8:09 AM on April 9, 2012


Wow, OSM's New York City map is a fucking mess. There's four or five different colors and so much irrelevant data.
posted by griphus at 6:35 AM on April 9 [+] [!]


Doesn't look so bad to me. Then again, I'm at school and on a 27" monitor.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:11 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


double block and bleed, did the "Where am I" link show you the name of the location you were looking at on the map in that moment? That's what it's supposed to do; despite the confusing name it's not trying to show you where you physically are. It's a reverse geocoding demo. If I click "where am I?" on griphus' map link in New York, for instance, it says New York, even though I'm in San Francisco.

Given the name you'd expect that button to show you a map of where you are right now. These days that's done via the geolocation API in your browser. The location is often wrong, particularly for wired computers. But it's entirely a function of your computer; not the website you're on. It works remarkably well in mobile browsers.

BTW, map routing / driving directions is a different problem than drawing good maps. It's mostly harder, too, although Google had a real breakthrough a few years ago with the implementation of its dynamic routing (the one that's so damn fast). Free bonus link, a shortest path routing algorithm demo on an OSM map.
posted by Nelson at 8:38 AM on April 9, 2012


Yeah, Open Street Map is great as a source of map data, but less great as an actual map.

We'll see - I'm going to run down and see if it really is Essex St. (I think it is, and Google and everyone else says it is) or Ecker St. (as OSM claims). And whether Oscar Alley really has a name (I think that one is right--Google is missing a lot of small street names.)

Wow, OSM's New York City map is a fucking mess. There's four or five different colors and so much irrelevant data.

I actually prefer the OSM map. I like seeing the address numbers on the buildings. The Google implementation there seems dated and there's not enough contrast for the buildings. And a lot of their building info (as in what is that building or what size it is) is wrong.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:43 AM on April 9, 2012


OpenCycleMap is really really good where it exists at all, because that's the kind of thing that benefits a lot from crowdsourcing. It's just a layer on the OSM so far as I understand it, but one where people do tinker productively.

But if you're in the countryside in England and much of Europe, and looking for a mobile walking map, it's very hard to beat viewranger which uses Ordnance Survey (in England) and similar official sources.
posted by alloneword at 8:46 AM on April 9, 2012


No need to go outside, mrgrimm, the sidewalk imprint visible on Google Street View says Essex. I couldn't find a picture of a street sign. It's not clear to me from Google's imagery whether Oscar Alley even exists as a right of way. Need boots on the ground for that one :-)

The fun thing about OSM is you can go in and edit the map to fix the mistake. Not sure about copyright rules; it would be more correct for you to verify the street names in person than transcribe data from Google's proprietary photos. I'm always surprised when I find bugs in OSM data; I thought a lot of the US streets comes from US government records. Then again the government data can also have mistakes and sometimes there's genuine ambiguity.
posted by Nelson at 8:52 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, first, the OSM site gets the location of my house wrong (Goog, Bing, and MQ all get it right).

Also, the main additional bit of data they seem to add is a railroad bed that ran through where my neighborhood is about 150 years ago. Would be a nice overlay for a transportation historian, maybe, but completely irrelevant to current map use.
posted by aught at 9:13 AM on April 9, 2012


Addressing is a big challenge for us. Steve Coast has made a few moves toward creating tools inside Microsoft that would make it easier to get address data into OSM, but fundamentally it’s an issue of scale: more eyes on the street, more people editing, more useful input. 2012 is a huge year for OSM in terms of data consumption, and with the increased visibility and a major license switchover behind us I hope that we can make it a big year for quality improvement, too.

Delmoi: the difference is that with OSM, the primary product is a vector dataset that can be styled or rendered in different ways, used for routing, and so on. With Google, we had to wait for them to produce a bike map. With OSM, Andy was able to do it himself. The upshot is that you can experiment faster, creating renderings using data for certain areas that inspire the addition of similar data to other areas. Only when OpenCycleMap was created did I take the time to research local cycling networks in Oakland and add them to the data set.
posted by migurski at 9:30 AM on April 9, 2012


Although the standard OSM map tiles are sub par to Google's, map makers and designers can do things with the data that aren't possible with Google Maps.

For example, right now I am working on a photojournalist's website, mapping photographs that were taken in the Gaza strip. Google shows blank spaces where there are hundreds of streets. OSM, on the other hand, has most of them. With OSM I also made my own map tiles matching the design of the the rest of the site, something not possible with Google.

Ofcourse, Google has very different goals with its map applications, so I think the comparison is a bit apples and oranges. But once more developers start using other mapping applications, it will surely put a dent in the popularity of Google Maps.
posted by romanb at 9:34 AM on April 9, 2012


Fuck Google Maps, it has made my life more difficult.
In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, there's a lot of addresses with a letter after the street address, like for instance "123A 5th Street." Google Maps doesn't understand the letter part, so it autocorrects it.
This would be only mildly annoying if there wasn't a lot of services using Google Maps for stuff like delivery, utilities, etc. It was worth my life getting cable TV here, I had to call in and get a supervisor to override the address manually because they kept sending their techs to install it next door.

When it autocorrects it, it usually will change to "123 5th Street" which is usually next door, and people next door understand the dilemma. But sometimes it goes as far as changing it to "123 5th Avenue" which is, at best on the other side of the neighborhood, and at worst it will go to "123 5th St or Ave" in Manhattan.

All of this is understandable, and it should be easy to fix, right? I've submitted bug reports to Google many times and I've even had other people do it too, but it has gone unfixed for over a year.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:55 AM on April 9, 2012


I like maps. I use my Google Maps application on my phone all the time and when I'm sitting on a bus or bored in a waiting room I'm the type to open my maps application and explore some area of my town or other location in the world. It's through this that I've noticed how poor Google Maps is when it comes to displaying international locations for English speakers.

This map of the Shanghai area, for example, is all in Chinese. If you're an English speaker it's pretty much a rule with Google Maps that if the main language of a country doesn't use the English alphabet you will pretty much not be able to read the labels in that country. I remember reading a Google forum once that they did this because they used one copy of the map for the whole world and that they were working on solving this problem. Pretty sure that was a couple years ago now, and while I'm noticing now that some areas are better (the Middle East for example) it's an issue that's still not completely resolved.

I hadn't looked (or even heard of) Open Street Map until now, but it looks like it is a little better for some locations (but not all). Up until now I've pretty much exclusively used Bing if I need to look up a location that isn't in an English speaking country. Here's that same Shanghai area with Bing. Here's a readable snapshot of Bulgaria. You can't zoom in very far in many cases, but at least the city labels are readable.

I understand that most people use these maps applications for exploring or getting directions in their own area, but I guarantee there are a sizable number of people who would like to use Google Maps for a bit more than that. I used to work in logistics and would be baffled when importers really had no clue where their goods were coming from in China. Based on the paucity of options they have to easily find and interpret those locations though, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.
posted by Defenestrator at 11:26 AM on April 9, 2012


Addressing is a big challenge for us.

Is there any way to tie a street address to a location in OSM? I've played around a bit with editing the maps and that just doesn't seem to be a feature since there are only road-level attributes.
posted by smackfu at 12:07 PM on April 9, 2012


smackfu, yes. The community has mostly converged on something called the “Karlsruche schema”, which lets you put points into the database with addr:housenumber and addr:street tags on them. Here’s an example node showing it in action.
posted by migurski at 12:11 PM on April 9, 2012


smackfu: "Addressing is a big challenge for us.

Is there any way to tie a street address to a location in OSM? I've played around a bit with editing the maps and that just doesn't seem to be a feature since there are only road-level attributes.


Yes. You can add the address to either a particular node (as noted above) which has a specific single set of coordinates, or to a closed way, (simple example, a square, consisting of nodes connected to each other]. the address properties would be belong to the way, not to each individual node.
posted by fizzix at 12:15 PM on April 9, 2012


Hmm, so every single house needs to be added and tagged. I was thinking more like tagging a street (way) with a number at each cross street, so that the in-between house numbers could be interpolated.
posted by smackfu at 12:28 PM on April 9, 2012


(But hey, now my apartment complex has a street address, so thanks.)
posted by smackfu at 12:29 PM on April 9, 2012


Interpolation is possible as well, using the addr:interpolation tag on a way parallel to a street. Here’s a way and a connected node implementing this. Since you added your apartment complex and gave it an address, you could extend a way from that point along the street with the appropriate range at either end.
posted by migurski at 12:44 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now, though everything uses phone based systems that download data from internet as you drive.

Actually, "everything" does not. There are options with locally stored map data.
posted by briareus at 12:45 PM on April 9, 2012


echo target: Yeah, Open Street Map is great as a source of map data, but less great as an actual map.

delmoi: What's the difference?

Cartography.
posted by desjardins at 1:28 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I have just found this: http://bit.ly/IsmsWV an OSM based project to map every Mormon temple/tabernacle/coffee shop in the world.
posted by alloneword at 1:34 PM on April 9, 2012


Now, though everything uses phone based systems that download data from internet as you drive.

The only things that do that are smartphones. I've yet to see a dedicated in-car navigation system that did that, and if it did I wouldn't expect it to be terribly popular because it wound necessitate a cellular data connection and associated rate plan.

Absent some sort of major change in how the cellular companies handle billing for data-only devices, I don't think that stored maps are going away anytime soon.

What would be nice would be if your nav system had a WiFi chipset, and could automatically download new maps every time it was in range of your home LAN's signal, rather than (as my Garmin does) constantly pestering you to take it inside and update the maps, which I am never in the mood to actually do.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:44 PM on April 9, 2012


Mormon temple/tabernacle/coffee shop

They don't drink coffee...
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:46 PM on April 9, 2012


The other problem, though, is just practical. Cellphone networks just aren't all that reliable. Why on earth should you need a phone signal to be able to use your phones mapping system? It's completely ridiculous.

delmoi -- if you are using a nav system on a newer iPhone, say the iPhone 4S, you don't need a cell signal. If you just want to locate yourself and navigate, the GPS chip is strictly interacting with the GPS Sat system. So, if you have cached a map, you could take your SIM card out and then you can use the GPS to navigate the map with no interaction over cell or wifi. I didn't realize this either, until I recently was trying to use a GPS app (GAIA), and they recommended popping out the SIM to save battery life.

The data connection is needed at some point if you want to download the base map you will need. Most older car or boat systems had the base maps already loaded, or you would buy them separately. What is great about having a cell connection is that you can download and change your basemaps on the fly. However, you do not need a phone signal if you already have cached those maps.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 4:10 PM on April 9, 2012


If you just want to locate yourself and navigate, the GPS chip is strictly interacting with the GPS Sat system

A couple of years back I went up to Brisbane the back (quick) way. There's a lot of flat, a lot of wheat, and not a lot of anything else. I had with me a 3GS, which, for most of the distance, would helpfully show me a blank screen with the blue 'you are here' dot.

It was funny on day 1...
posted by pompomtom at 4:16 PM on April 9, 2012


This map of the Shanghai area, for example, is all in Chinese. If you're an English speaker it's pretty much a rule with Google Maps that if the main language of a country doesn't use the English alphabet you will pretty much not be able to read the labels in that country.

Both of those locations display with romanizations to me. On my end, Google Maps appears to be completely in English. I know it's not since Google's a global company - but I've never seen China labeled in Chinese, for example.

How does Google Maps decide what language to use? Is it even under my control? If I were to visit Bulgaria, for example, I might want to see the signs in the original alphabet, because I can read it and it would be less hassle than mentally translating between romanized and original.

I poked around a little bit, but not too much.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:10 AM on April 10, 2012


If anyone's in the UK, bing has a super-useful 'Ordnance Survey' option, can't remember where it is, it's a drop-down menu where you don't think there is one. Extremely good for rural farms, for instance. Also scored far higher at finding Clynderwen, also spelt Clunderwen because the council keep changing it.
posted by maiamaia at 6:01 AM on April 10, 2012


How does Google Maps decide what language to use? Is it even under my control?

If you click on the Maps icon in the top right, there should be an English option that you can deselect in order to get local labels.

And yes, this was changed at some point... Google Maps used to be labelled in local names in the past.
posted by smackfu at 6:31 AM on April 10, 2012


echo target: “Yeah, Open Street Map is great as a source of map data, but less great as an actual map.”

delmoi: “What's the difference?”

desjardins: “Cartography.”

If you want the OSM data combined with pretty cartography, you can always just look at the iPhoto map. (Of course, some of the data gets kind of fudged and flattened in the process, but if you want is pretty maps, then it's probably not a huge deal.)
posted by koeselitz at 7:57 AM on April 10, 2012


prettymaps is not particularly useful for navigation, but it uses OSM and true to its name, is pretty.
posted by desjardins at 8:58 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Related: someone visualized GPS tracks that OSM users upload to help make the map. Here's a direct link to the image on Flickr. Basically a view of where people contribute to OSM.
posted by Nelson at 10:06 AM on April 10, 2012


just look at the iPhoto map

Honestly I don't think the iPhoto map is anything special. It's main benefit over the Google Map is that it matches the one used in iPhoto on the desktop.
posted by smackfu at 10:40 AM on April 10, 2012


smackfu: "If you click on the Maps icon in the top right, there should be an English option that you can deselect in order to get local labels.

And yes, this was changed at some point... Google Maps used to be labelled in local names in the past.
"

Wow, there it is. They added it! Guess I take back everything I mentioned in my comment! Thank you!
posted by Defenestrator at 2:52 AM on April 12, 2012


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